Many content marketers like to claim things like: "Brands should act like media companies"… "The brands that win don’t just sell products, they entertain"... "To succeed, brands must provide value not just as an advertiser, but as a content creator."
Most of this is inaccurate. Sure, brands need to find compelling ways to educate and entertain consumers around their products and services, but doing so by becoming the sole creator and distributor of said content isn’t the answer.
If you want to be a truly educating and entertaining brand, don’t try to be a media company. In fact, consider the opposite:
Abandon your social channels
For most marketers, creating content for brand-owned social channels is a huge drain on resources. Facebook business pages and YouTube channels require a lot of time to manage, and these platforms still possess a lot of control over your content, marketing efforts and consumer data, making it hard to monetizing off platform.
The manpower and budgets put towards this can often be applied much more effectively elsewhere. Abandoning owned social channels also opens the door for brands to partner and work across social in much more dynamic ways, without deadweight channels dividing attention and resources.
Only DTC brands "need" a FB or IG feed
If you think the last point doesn’t apply to you, let’s be clear: Unless you are using Facebook and Instagram to sell products directly to consumers, delete those pages. Their algorithms are constantly changing, meaning there’s no single best way to engage organically, and with people now trained to ignore paid ads, your marketing efforts can easily be tuned out.
The single reason to get off YouTube
If your product review videos are doing better than your branded content videos, you don’t need a YouTube channel. On YouTube, content is more important than the channel itself, so if your brand isn’t creating quality storytelling that organically generates views, delete it.
Being a hashtag is better than having a handle
Once their owned social channels are gone (all or at least the highly unnecessary ones), marketers can focus on integrating their brands into trending conversations and existing fan bases and communities, all of which is a much more organic way for brands to participate online.
An easy way to initiate this is to stop promoting a brand as a handle (after all, that feed should be gone now), and focus on the brand as a hashtag. Brands as hashtags are more powerful because hashtags turn a brand into a searchable term and deliver much more exposure. Because hashtags are used to label or attach a theme to a piece of content, there are far more opportunities for brands to show up as a hashtag.
Ultimately the goal of any brand shouldn't be to own a piece of the socialsphere, but to become an organic presence throughout it. Hashtags provide a much greater chance of that.
Find people to carry your story
The most powerful way for brands to educate and entertain isn’t to try this themselves, rather to do so through like-minded people, influencers, creators, and consumers. Being free of owned channels and handles brings a greater opportunity to partner with others to carry the brand story.
Whether that’s by identifying creators whose audiences align with yours or hosting events where guests generate and share content about the brand, when marketers are hyper-focused on people outside of the organization telling their own version of a brand’s story, their storytelling is much more powerful than whatever the brand team would have created on their own.
Brands have taken to distributing content everywhere all the time, much of which doesn’t invite organic discovery or sharing and further isolates brands from consumers. Marketers must unwind these brand habits, and move away from "brand owned" content. The brands that win aren’t the ones that are the most prolific, they’re the ones that are most shared.
Luke Blaser is founding partner at Inkwell.